Jealousy can be a way to seek attention.

How to Avoid Having a Jealous Toddler

by Tammy Dray

Handling jealousy in toddlers can be tricky because the children might not understand what they're feeling. While sibling jealousy is relatively common, toddlers can also experience jealousy around their friends or in social settings. Many toddlers react with jealousy over conditions they don't understand or know how to handle. Figuring out the roots of the jealousy problem will help you understand your toddler better so you can prevent or stop his jealousy.

1 Identify what conditions trigger jealousy on your toddler. If it's something unavoidable, like the birth of a new baby, you will need to find ways to deal with it. However, you might discover that jealousy occurs when you ignore him in favor of other people. In those cases, evaluate your behavior to see whether there's any validity to your child's reaction.

2 Designate special "us" time for you and your toddler. This is especially important if your toddler is jealous of a sibling and feels neglected. When you organize an activity for just you and your toddler, let him know you will spend time with the other child later on. Use simple words and explain you will spend time with him again soon after.

3 Reinforce good behavior. For example, if your toddler is jealous when you spend time with other adults or children, he might need to hear that he's not being replaced. However, don't allow him to interrupt adult conversations just to get your attention. Instead, hug him and reassure him just before the adults arrive. Then explain that you have to talk to other people. When they leave, praise him for being a good boy when guests were around. This will reinforce the idea that it's OK to share you temporarily with other people and that you will still love him afterward.

4 Make your toddler feel important. If the jealousy is over a new baby, you can ask the toddler to be your helper, reminding him how important his role is and how much you value the help. If the jealousy is over somebody else, ensure that your toddler is not ignored. For example, make a big fuss of seeing your child again after being out to see a friend and ask guests to say "Hi" to your toddler before they sit down to talk to you or head to another room to see the new baby. Being acknowledged can go a long way toward soothing jealousy.

About the Author

Aside from writing experience, I also have coaching/teaching experience, both as an writing coach (currently teaching three workshops at www.coffeehouseforwriters.com) and an ESL (English-as-a-Second-Language)teacher abroad. I'm a certified Nutrition Consultant and fitness trainer and a longtime contributor to health/wellness publications, from Self to Marie Claire. I am fluent in Spanish and have worked as a translator and a language instructor. I also have two books forthcoming in 2008.

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